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Friday, June 26, 1998 Published at 04:36 GMT 05:36 UK

Sport: Football

High-risk hooligans sent home

An England fan is led away by police in Lille

Five Category C hooligans - maximum risk classification - were among the 43 English football fans arrested during disturbances in France on Thursday night.

Two were immediately expelled from France, the other three are being sent home on Friday.

The five were included in the 24 arrested in Lille. Fourteen others were held for being drunk and disorderly. All have been released. Five more are still being questioned about assaulting police officers.

In Lens, 19 people were arrested, 17 for being drunk and disorderly, of which six have been released. Eleven are due to be freed on Friday later today once they have sobered up.

Two were arrested for acts of violence on the streets of Lens. They are being questioned and there is no sign of their imminent release.

Drink a main factor

Adam Mynott: "These were a minority of England fans"
The fans were detained by police wearing riot gear after sporadic fighting broke out in the two towns late on Thursday night but officers say they managed to calm the situation by 0100 BST (0000 GMT).

The police described the fans as drunk rather than hooligans.

The arrests came as thousands of England fans continue to pour into the area, hours before the start of an alcohol ban aimed at preventing violent scenes already seen in Lens and Marseille.

Up to 40,000 English supporters, many of them ticketless, are expected in Lens for the crucial World Cup match against Colombia on Friday evening.

[ image: Lens: Expecting thousands]
Lens: Expecting thousands
During Friday, fans will not be able to buy alcohol in Calais and two neighbouring towns to Lens before the match, effectively creating an alcohol-free zone all the way back to the English Channel.

Authorities believe that the alcohol ban put in place before England's match with Romania in Toulouse played a key part in preventing the repeat of violent clashes between rival gangs of hooligans during the opening match in Marseille.

Six stopped at port

The BBC's Adam Mynott reports on how the extended ban works
Authorities in France refused entry to six people at Calais after they decided that they were carrying too much alcohol.

And a spokesman for the International Criminal Intelligence Service said: "England fans going to the match are warned not to take significant amounts of alcohol with them.

"They face being refused entry, and that applies to all categories of fans.

[ image: Fans: Smuggling warning]
Fans: Smuggling warning
"The definition of what makes a significant amount is a matter for the French officer involved."

Lens' 24 hour alcohol ban starts at 0800BST (0700GMT) on Friday.

Fans bringing their own drink will not be allowed to consume it in the open while all bars restaurants and shops will refuse to sell.

Lille is beginning a ban on the sale of takeaway alcohol to prevent fans travelling to the city to stock up.

Fears remain that English and German hooligan groups could meet in the city during the weekend.

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Hollis, of South Yorkshire Police, the senior British officer advising the French, said: "We support the ban on alcohol, there is no doubt that alcohol within the context of England supporters does play a role."

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